Posted by: johnhourihan | December 14, 2014

Christmas and Christianity Have Changed

People say the country has changed, that it has become more divisive and angry.
I agree and was wondering why, when I remembered that when I was young the Lucier boys had a monopoly sanctioned by the church.
I’m sure today there are those who would complain of its unfairness to all the others who plied the same trade.
In today’s anger-riddled world there are those who would stand and argue with the boys and tell them they had no right to be in their place of preference.
Eventually the arguments would win out and some sort of round-robin system would be instituted, some sort of capitalist conformity that would spread the wealth evenly among the rich and poor.
It was the Christmas of my eight grade. I had a paper route. It was a morning affair that began my daily trek through the blue early morning snow and finished in the stark white sunlight and slush.
As I finished my Sunday route and worked my way back toward my home on Winter Street, just a block or so away from St. Mary’s Church, I saw the early walkers trickling down Winter Street and the more affluent who drove to Sunday Mass were parking their big black cars along the roadside.
The bells would ring soon and people would come in droves to fill the pews and then filter in behind the back row and stand. The men who would later pass the basket for donations would stand in the foyer near the holy water, talk to each other and nod hello to those going in to actually attend the Mass.
I had to hurry. I had to change and get back here before the eight o’clock Mass.
As I passed the church the Luciers were setting up.
They pieced together the wooden box they had made from boards stacked beside their house up on the North Purchase, just south of us, closer to town.
Then from the trunk of a car that had just pulled up and was allowed to park right in the street blocking off one lane of traffic, they  unloaded the Sunday newspapers. As I walked by, they were loading them onto the top of the wooden box and putting the money box on the side. There was a folding chair that would be added later.
It made me wonder how they had been awarded this money-making singularity. But I didn’t care all that much. I knew the pastor must have had a reason ,and besides, their family was as large as mine and no more affluent. I was sure they could use the money, and, well, it wasn’t as if they weren’t working for it.
We all attended Mass and as we exited the church, there in front of us was the newspaper stand. The main walkway to the street led straight to the two boys, a few years ahead of me in school, hustling the Sunday paper. Everyone who could afford it bought one.
I think back on those days when people took care of each other, and when the older boys of a large family found a way to make a few extra bucks we didn’t fight to take it from them, we were happy for them. Sadly, I just know that if this happened today there would be a group of people who had children with paper routes who would complain. They would demand that everyone share evenly in the spoils of journalism. They are the same ones who now complain that socialism is bad if it helps only the poor and doesn‘t also help fill the coffers of the rich. Fair is fair.
They would complain that those people who have little are in their predicament only because they are lazy or stupid and should be left to their own devises.
These, of course would be the same people who have shucked off the heart of religion in favor of  conservative Christianity – who have clustered to those parts of the Bible that can be interpreted to say, “anyone unlike myself is not worthy.”
And  “I believe in Jesus, I just think He made some mistakes about this helping those in need.”
This Christmas I would rather see the Lucier boys selling Sunday papers outside the church to the emptying full house, than what I see today.
Now, there are so relatively few who even go to church, and no one could make a buck selling newspapers, even if they sold one to everyone who came out.
Maybe that is part of what has turned us all against each other.



  1. Are you speaking of those who will make the poor the enemy instead of poverty? Those who make the hungry the enemy instead of hunger?

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